WASHINGTON — President Trump invited The Post into the Oval Office on Monday for an hour-long interview during which he declared “there’s a great optimism” in America and predicted a strong economic rebound from the coronavirus crisis during the fourth quarter of 2020.
Trump said he believes a national comeback from the coronavirus pandemic is underway and that Americans are beginning to “feel good.”
“I think they’re starting to feel good now. The country’s opening again. We saved millions of lives, I think,” said Trump, sitting behind the Resolute desk with a long list of accomplishments by his administration printed out in front of him.
The president predicted that the steep economic downturn will end soon as states allow businesses to reopen after COVID-19 infected nearly 1.2 million Americans, killed almost 70,000 and left 30 million unemployed — about 18 percent of all US workers.
“You have to be careful, but you have to get back to work,” Trump said. “People want the country open… I guess we have 38 states that are either opening or are very close.”
Trump, wearing a navy suit, blue tie, and with an American flag pin on his lapel, praised Florida’s first step Monday toward reopening businesses. “Florida is doing great,” he said, calling Republican Ron DeSantis “a good governor.”
“I think they’re starting to feel good now. The country’s opening again. We saved millions of lives, I think,” he said.
The president also foresaw a dramatic rise in economic indicators by the end of year.
“We’ll open it up and I think your fourth quarter is going to be very good,” he said.
“We did the right thing and now we’re bringing the country back. And I think there’s a great optimism. I don’t know if you see it, but I think there’s a great optimism now.”
Trump said he was optimistic that steps taken by his administration will tamp down COVID-19.
“Hopefully we can keep the plague, keep the virus at bay. If we have a flare up, we can put it out. We’ve learned a lot.”
But Trump dismissed a leaked Centers for Disease Control and Prevention projection of daily deaths nearly doubling over the next month as “fake news.”
Asked about The New York Times report, he said, “I know nothing about it. I don’t know anything about it. Nobody told me that. I think it’s — I think it’s false, I think it’s fake news,” he said.
White House spokesman Judd Deere said Monday that the report — estimating 3,000 deaths per day by early June — had not been “presented to the coronavirus task force or gone through interagency vetting.”
The Times reported that CDC projection was “based on government modeling pulled together in chart form by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.” The projection also forecast a surge in new daily infections.
Trump also contrasted the widespread shutdown of businesses with a “herd immunity” approach that he said could have killed more than 2 million people, according to early projections.
Trump said that if there was a silver lining in all the misery it is that Americans are now eager to return supply chains to the US, including the production of medicine from China.
“Now, the one thing that the pandemic has taught us is that I was right,” Trump said. “You know, I had people say, ‘No, no, it’s good. You keep — you do this and that.’ Now those people are really agreeing with me. And that includes medicine and other things, you know.”